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February 13, 2011 by christianlangenegger in Accusative, Articles, Dative, Genitive, Learning

techniques,Meaning Clarification, Nominative, The Posts, Vocabulary, With Quizlet Flashcards
If there is one thing that I stress when teaching German it is the importance of learning nouns with their articles.
Like French, Spanish and many other languages German has genders. What makes German just that little harder
though is that there are three genders. And the article for words in the plural is the same as for the feminine

What do you need to know about genders? Is there an easy way to tell genders? In some instances there are rules
regarding the form of the word. These rules are great, but many words fall outside of these rules and will leave
you guessing. You cannot rely on natural gender either or analogy to other languages.

For instance:

French German

le soliel (masculine) die Sonne (feminine)

la lune (feminine) der Mond (masculine)

It is important to remember is that genders are grammatical. Therefore the following rule applies:

der > er

Der Hund ist nicht im Haus. Wo ist er?

(The dog is not in the house. Where is he?)

die > sie

Die Katze sprang auf den Tisch. Sie ist auf dem Tisch.

(The cat jumped onto the table. She is on the table.)

das > es

Das Mdchen ist sehr nett. Es schenkt Frau Mller Blumen.

(The girl is very nice. It gives Ms. Mller flowers.)

Important to remember is that DER, DIE, DAS mean the. The articles change in the four different cases. Thus
they provide us with information about the function of the word in the sentence. Is it the subject, object, indirect
object or possessive object?

Lets see how these articles change. Like with the personal pronouns, many articles occur several times and can
make it a little confusing. Masculine words change their articles the most.

Articles with genders and cases: Notice change going down.

What happens if you make a mistake with articles? Usually it is just wrong, but other times it can change the
meaning as, like in English, German has homonyms that are spelled the same but mean something different.

For example:

der Tor (the fool) das Tor (the gate)

der Mittag (midday (time)) das Mittag = (lunch (meal))

der Messer (the measuring device) das Messer (the knife)

The other reason you want to learn this early on is to understand German sentences, which do not always follow a
subject, verb predicate order.

For example:

Der Mann schiet den Hund.

(The man shoots the dog.)

der Mann = Nominative = Subject

den Hund = Accusative = Object


Den Hund schiet der Mann.

(The man shoots the dog.)

der Mann = Nominative = Subject

den Hund = Accusative = Object

*Not here that we cannot change the sentence structure in English and must translate it like the last sentence.

So what are some of the rules for genders to help you along the way? Here are some guide lines you can use.

Always MASCULINE (der/ein):

Days, months, and seasons: Montag, Juli, Sommer (Monday, July, summer). The one exception is das
Frhjahr, another word for der Frhling, spring.

Points of the compass, map locations and winds: Nordwest(en) (northwest), Sd(en) (south), der Fhn
(warm wind out of the Alps), der Scirocco (sirocco, a hot desert wind).

Precipitation: Regen, Schnee, Nebel (rain, snow, fog/mist)

Names of cars and trains: der VW, der ICE, der Mercedes. (But motorbikes and aircraft are feminine.)

Words ending in -ismus: Journalismus, Kommunismus, Synchronismus (equal -ism words in English)

Words ending in -ner: Rentner, Schaffner, Zentner, Zllner (pensioner, [train] conductor, hundredweight, customs collector). The feminine form adds -in (die Rentnerin).

The basic atmospheric elements that end in -stoff: der Sauerstoff (oxygen), der Stickstoff (nitrogen),
der Wasserstoff (hydrogen), plus carbon (der Kohlenstoff). The only other elements (out of 112) that are
masculine are der Phosphor and der Schwefel (sulphur).

Usually MASCULINE (der/ein):

Agents (people who do something), most occupations and nationalities: der Architekt, der Arzt, der
Deutsche, der Fahrer, der Verkufer, der Student, der Tter (architect, physician, German [person],
driver, salesman, student, perpetrator).

Nouns ending in -er, when referring to people (but die Jungfer, die Mutter, die Schwester, die Tochter,
das Fenster)

Names of alcoholic drinks: der Wein, der Wodka (but das Bier)

Names of mountains and lakes: der Berg, der See (but Germanys highest peak, die Zugspitze follows the
rule for the feminine ending -e, and die See is the sea).

Most rivers outside of Europe: der Amazonas, der Kongo, der Mississippi

Most nouns ending in -ich, -ling, -ist: Rettich, Sittich, Schdling, Frhling, Pazifist (radish, parakeet,
pest/parasite, spring, pacifist)

Always FEMININE (die/eine):

Nouns ending in the following suffixes: -heit, -keit, -tt, -ung, -schaft Examples: die Freiheit,
Schnelligkeit, Universitt, Zeitung, Freundschaft (freedom, quickness, university, newspaper,
friendship). **Note that these suffixes usually have a corresponding English suffix, such as -ness (-heit,
-keit), -ty (-tt), -ship (-schaft).

Nouns ending in -ie: Drogerie, Geographie, Komdie, Industrie, Ironie (often equal to words ending in
-y in English)

Names of aircraft, ships and motorbikes: die Boeing 747, die Titanic, die BMW (motorbike only; the car
is der BMW). The die comes from die Maschine, which can mean plane, motorbike and engine. **Helpful
reminder: Ships are often referred to as she in English.

Nouns ending in -ik: die Grammatik, Grafik, Klinik, Musik, Panik, Physik

Borrowed (foreign) nouns ending in: -ade, -age, -anz, -enz, -ette, -ine, -ion, -tur: Parade, Blamage
(shame), Bilanz, Distanz, Frequenz, Serviette (napkin), Limonade, Nation, Konjunktur (economic trend).

Cardinal numbers: eine Eins, eine Drei (a one, a three)

Usually FEMININE (die/eine):

Nouns ending in -in that pertain to female people, occupations, nationalities: Amerikanerin, Studentin
(female American, student), but der Harlekin and also many non-people words: das Benzin, der Urin
(gasoline/petrol, urine).

Most nouns ending in -e: Ecke, Ente, Grenze, Pistole, Seuche (corner, duck, border, pistol, epidemic),
but der Deutsche, das Ensemble, der Friede, der Junge ([the] German person, ensemble, peace, boy)

Nouns ending in -ei: Partei, Schweinerei (party [political], dirty trick/mess), but das Ei, der Papagei
(egg, parrot).

Most types of flowers and trees: Birke, Chrysantheme, Eiche, Rose (birch, chrysanthemum, oak, rose),
but der Ahorn, (maple), das Gnseblmchen (daisy), and the word for tree is der Baum

Borrowed (foreign) nouns ending in -isse, -itis, -ive: Hornisse, Initiative (hornet, initiative)

Always NEUTER (das/ein):

Nouns ending in -chen or -lein: Frulein, Huschen, Kaninchen, Mdchen (unmarried woman, cottage,
rabbit, girl/maiden)

Infinitives used as nouns (gerunds): das Essen, das Schreiben (eating/food, writing)

Almost all of the 112 known chemical elements (das Aluminium, Blei, Kupfer, Uran, Zink, Zinn,
Zirkonium, ). **Note: Most of the elements end in -ium, a das ending.

Names of hotels, cafs and theaters

Names of colors used as nouns: das Blau, das Rot (blue, red)

Usually NEUTER (das/ein):

Geographic place names (towns, countries, continents): das Berlin, Deutschland, Brasilien, Afrika (but
learn non-das countries, such as: der Irak, der Jemen, die Schweiz, die Trkei, die USA [plur.])

Young animals and people: das Baby, das Kken (chick); but der Junge (boy).

Most metals: Aluminium, Blei, Kupfer, Messing, Zinn (aluminium, lead, copper, brass, tin/pewter; but
die Bronze, der Stahl bronze, steel)

Nouns ending in -o (often cognates from Latin): das Auto, Bro, Kasino, Konto (account), Radio, Veto,
Video: BUT: die Avocado, die Disko, der Euro, der Scirocco, etc.

Fractions: das/ein Viertel (), das/ein Drittel (but die Hlfte, half)

Most nouns starting with Ge-: Genick, Gert, Geschirr, Geschlecht, Gesetz, Gesprch (back of the neck,
device, dishes, sex/gender, law, conversation): BUT der Gebrauch, der Gedanke, die Gefahr, der Gefallen,
der Genuss, der Geschmack, der Gewinn, die Gebhr, die Geburt, die Geduld, die Gemeinde, die
Geschichte etc.

Most borrowed (foreign) nouns ending in -ment: Ressentiment, Supplement (but der Zement, der/das
Moment [2 diff. meanings])

Most nouns ending in -nis: Versumnis (neglect; BUT die Erlaubnis, die Erkenntnis, die Finsternis)

Most nouns ending in -tum or -um: Christentum, Knigtum (Christianity, kingship; but der Irrtum, der
Reichtum error, wealth)

So there you have it. Now just remember though the Slogan is Volkswagen Das Auto, even more German
would be Vokswagen Der Wagen.

Das Auto or Der Wagen

Ive also made these handy flashcards to better learn the Gender rules.
Choose a Study ModeScatterLearnFlashcards